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Cooperative procedures motivate employees in Berkley.

Managers need to develop cooperative organizational procedures that will motivate employees to use their maximum potential and enhance organizational performance. While this approach can be applied to management of large and small cities, as well as to the private sector, it has had a considerable impact in our community.

Berkley is a city close to Detroit with a population of 16,960. During most of my 23 years as city manager, we have had to manage our functions with fewer and fewer employees. Nonetheless, by involving employees in decision-making and by capitalizing on the resources of informal work groups, we have been able to achieve some major results.

We are one of the few cities in Michigan to have successfully consolidated our police and fire departments into a single highly trained public safety service. It helped immensely that we brought our people into the process early and gave them ownership. In addition, increased cooperation in the workplace allowed us to tie together our plans for city finances, physical land use, strategic growth, and emergency preparedness.

Employee Involvement

In their efforts to improve organizational performance, local managers face two kinds of pressure. One is the pressure to increase authoritarian methods of command and control for employee compliance and conformity. The other kind of pressure comes from information in the social sciences which demonstrates that new organizational procedures will lead to improved productivity through cooperative work arrangements with employees.

If a few people at the top are giving orders while others merely follow routinized procedures, then initiative is stifled and organizational performance is impaired. Managers should seek policy compliance by adopting procedures which will allow employees to become involved in determining what needs to be done. Enlightened managers recognize that many employees would be highly motivated to do their best, would be most stimulated into creative accomplishment and would be willing and able to accept responsibility for directing and controlling their own actions if they were freed from the constraints of arbitrary orders and allowed to participate in matters affecting them through group discussion, consultation, open communications and shared decision-making.

Involvement is one of the most powerful motivation tools. As people become involved, they become committed to seeing that results are achieved. People learn most rapidly when they have a sense of responsibility for their actions. Once this is realized, managers are in a much better position to unleash a creative sense of inquiry in the workplace where employees are encouraged to participate in opening things to questioning and innovation, to go in new directions, where real learning can take place in a dynamic balance between what is presently known and the changing situations and facts of the future.

A Team Approach

Effective incentive plans can promote good labor relations, reduce personnel problems and encourage initiative. Rather than the traditional individual incentive systems where rewards are based upon how much an employee produces above some standard amount, emphasis might want to be placed upon the overall productivity of the work group. A gain-sharing bonus is linked directly to team performance in achieving increased productivity through increased output, not just dollar savings. Such an incentive not only increases relationship and support between the work group and the supervisor, but also leads to a cooperative work environment. Employees essentially supervise themselves for maximum productivity.


The outstanding managers of the 90s will be those who can create a culture that not only supports the empowerment of others but also allows them to move faster, communicate more clearly, and involve everyone in a focused effort to serve even more demanding constituents. Managers must simplify procedures and delegate more.

Managers who facilitate learning and change will want to train individuals not for the performance of routine tasks, but rather train their individual talents for opportunity-finding and for problem-finding. Employees should be trained to find problems, to look for them, to develop ways of thinking that are particularly useful for converting troubles into manageable problems.

Giving employees a voice in the system goes beyond the suggestion box. Employees should be empowered because managers want them to participate, not just to get more productive hands, but also to get more active minds. Empowerment means giving employees authority to use their own judgement and take some risks. Management offers guidance and leadership, gives few orders, and forgives and forgets mistakes when risks are taken. Self actualization takes place in each employee through such positive work experience.
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Copyright 1992 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:Berkley, Michigan
Author:Kiracofe, John H.
Publication:Nation's Cities Weekly
Date:Mar 30, 1992
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